‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time,” President Lincoln famously quipped.
This wise adage comes to mind as nuclear talks between Iran and the six world powers, led by the US, are set to resume in Vienna, with the hopes of reaching a comprehensive agreement over Iran’s nuclear program ahead of a July 20 deadline.
But we in Congress will not be fooled. Just a few weeks ago, I offered amendments to the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act to make sure that a final deal won’t whitewash Iran’s nuclear weapons program. My amendments also make sure that those companies doing business with Iran won’t do business with our Department of Defense. In this spring of subterfuge, we are seeing troubling signs that current negotiations may lead to a nuclear-armed Iran, rather than prevent one.
Troublingly, we have already agreed in advance to the right of Iran to enrich uranium by forgetting a dozen UN resolutions. This is the opposite of nonproliferation.
Not a single one of Iran’s nearly 20,000 centrifuges – about half of them producing uranium enriched to reactor fuel-grade level – have been dismantled.
And Iran’s leaders are talking not of dismantling their country’s nuclear infrastructure, but of increasing it – to as many as 50,000 centrifuges.
“Our nuclear technology is not up for negotiation,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani recently declared.
Moreover, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who described Western expectation for his country to curb missile development as “stupid and idiotic,” called on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to “mass produce” missiles. We in Congress refuse to be blindsided by hopes of any such dangerous deal.
We welcome an agreement that brings Iran back into the family of peaceful nations, but we will fight any emerging deal that will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran.
To this end, the amendment I offered stated that Iran must stop uranium enrichment, production of weapons of mass destruction and sponsorship of international terrorism before any final deal is made between the US and Iran. And even as we speak out against the wave of international trade delegations flocking to Iran since the interim accord was reached last year, it appears we have our own accounting to do to prevent Department of Defense contractors from doing business with Iran.
To redress this duplicity, another amendment I have authored and that is now in the bill requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on DOD contractors that have done business with Iran. If companies want to do business with the DOD, they need to think twice about doing business with Iran.
In the immortal words of Lincoln, we, the people’s representatives, refuse to be fooled.
The author, a Member of Congress from Colorado, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus.